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Euro Area

Economics

Economic Overview

The Euro Area is a unique structure: a currency zone comprising 20 members of the European Union that have a common central bank and monetary policy, but not a fiscal policy. The region includes some of the world’s most advanced industrial democracies, but it has been a laggard for more than a decade in comparison with the US. This stems partly from demographic factors, but also reflects a failure to capitalize on recent revolutions in information technology, as well as self-imposed constraints on fiscal activism. Its resource endowment makes the region highly dependent on energy imports, and structural issues have exacerbated a dependence on exports to drive growth.

Euro Area

Real Gross Domestic Product

Euro Area Gross Domestic Product, chained 2010 prices, 12-month % change, SA, updates quarterly

Real Gross Domestic Product measures the change in the inflation-adjusted value of all goods and services produced in the economy. It comprises private consumption and investment, inventory buildup, government spending and net exports. Markets watch this indicator to gauge the strength and composition of growth.

Euro Area

Unemployment Rate

Euro Area Unemployment Rate, All Persons, %, SA, Updates Monthly

The Unemployment Rate measures the percentage of the labor force currently not working but actively seeking employment. Markets monitor the unemployment rate to assess the cyclical health of the economy and the likelihood that wage demands may increase inflationary pressures.

Euro Area

Consumer Price Index

Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, All Items, Core (All Items excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco), annual change, %, SA, updates monthly

The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices is a measure of the change over time in the average prices paid by consumers for a market basket of consumer goods and services. It is calculated using the same methodology across members of the European Union. As the most widely used measure of inflation, changes in the index are closely followed by policymakers, financial markets, businesses, and consumers. Eurostat reports both an ‘All Items’ number that includes all categories in the calculation basket, and a ‘Core’ number that strips out highly volatile energy, food, alcohol, and tobacco prices.

Euro Area

Trade Balance

Goods Trade Balance, billions EUR, 12-month moving average, SA, updates monthly

Measures the difference in value between imported and exported goods over the reported period. A positive number indicates that more goods were exported than imported – generating a trade surplus – and a negative number indicates a deficit. Trade imbalances may reflect fleeting differences in growth rates or more permanent factors in the composition of growth or the endowment and price of natural resources.

Euro Area

Key Policy Rates

Main Refinancing Operations, Marginal Lending Facility, Deposit Facility Rates, %, updates daily

The European Central Bank targets three rates to influence monetary variables in the economy: the Main Refinancing Operations rate which helps determine the cost of liquidity in the banking system, the Deposit Facility rate, at which banks make overnight deposits within the Eurosystem, and the Marginal Lending Facility rate, which determines the cost of overnight credit to banks in the Eurosystem. The Bank reviews its policy rates every six weeks.

Euro Area

Money Supply Growth

M3 Money Supply, Adjusted Loans to Households, Adjusted Loans to Non-Financial Corporations, 12-month % change, NSA, updates monthly

M3 Money Supply is a measure of currency that includes cash, checking deposits, non-cash assets that can easily be converted into cash, repurchase agreements, money market fund shares, and debt securities with a maturity of up to two years. The annual growth rate of adjusted loans to the private sector helps quantify spending and investment levels, providing insight into the health of the underlying economy. These data series are used to assess monetary developments and the effects of monetary policy, as well as to monitor financial stability.

Euro Area

Central Bank Assets

European Central Bank Total Assets, billions EUR, updates weekly

The European Central Bank Balance Sheet is a consolidated financial statement that shows the assets and liabilities of the Eurosystem national central banks and the European Central Bank itself. The system’s assets consist primarily of government bonds issued by Euro Area member states, corporate debt, and securitized mortgage debt. Its liabilities are mostly currency in circulation, commercial bank reserves, and collateralized reverse repurchase agreements. The balance sheet is used to influence interest rates – when officials want to stimulate the economy, it expands, and when they wish to tighten financial conditions, it shrinks.

Euro Area

Debt Ratios

Credit to General Government, Non-Financial Corporate, and Household Sectors, % of Gross Domestic Product at Market Value, updates quarterly

Aggregate Debt Ratios measure the total borrowing of the general government, non-financial corporate, and household sectors, expressed as a share of gross domestic product. Total debt is followed by investors as a gauge of the vulnerability of an economy to financial shocks. An overly fast pace of debt growth is also frequently associated with a buildup of unproductive investment and excessively high asset valuations.

Euro Area

Net International Investment Position

Net International Investment Position, billions USD, updates quarterly

The Net International Investment Position is the difference between the external financial assets and liabilities of a nation. A nation with a positive position is a creditor nation and is generally considered a safe haven in financial markets. A nation with a negative position is a debtor nation, with deeper balance of payments vulnerabilities.

Euro Area

Currency Reserves

Official Reserve Assets, Foreign Currency Reserves (in convertible foreign currencies), billions USD, updates monthly

Currency Reserves show external holdings that are freely usable for settlement of international transactions, and are readily available to and controlled by monetary authorities for meeting balance of payments financing needs, for intervention in currency markets to affect exchange rates, and for other related purposes. Developed markets with widely used, freely tradeable international currencies typically provide reserve assets rather than engaging in reserve accumulation.